The Chicago Sun-Times announced this morning that it will no longer endorse candidates. What about its rival, the Chicago Tribune? Here’s what editorial page editor Bruce Dold tells Romenesko readers:
We will keep doing election endorsements. It takes a lot of work to investigate these races and talk to the candidates and make an informed recommendation to readers, but I think endorsements are at the heart of what an editorial board does. We recommend an agenda and ask readers and government leaders to push that agenda. We push ideas for better public schools and economic growth and government that won’t tolerate the miserable culture of political corruption in Illinois. I don’t think it makes sense for us to recommend how to have better government but avoid recommending who is best to lead that change.
Editorials have impact. (Ask Rod Blagojevich, who tried to get the Trib editorial board fired.) Endorsements have impact, too. In a high-profile race, a newspaper endorsement is one of many opinions a reader will consider. We make a choice, we invite readers to tell us their own choices, we help to create a debate. In low-profile races, such as judicial races, readers don’t have much information. In Cook County, they may not know much more than which candidate is endorsed by the Democratic Party. I know from going to slating sessions that party loyalty is the first priority in those endorsements. We make an independent recommendation and many people trust us for that.
We plan to run an editorial on this tomorrow and it will be posted later today.
UPDATE: Here’s the Tribune’s editorial.